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Ziras, a former Brunswick County K-9, devoted most of his life training and assisting with efforts to keep drugs off local streets.
When the retired K-9 died last week following a seven-month-long battle with lymphoma, his adoptive family was with him until the end.
“There was no hope for him, and we couldn't allow him to continue suffering,” Ziras’ owner, Mariah Brazil, wrote in an e-mail to the Beacon after Ziras was humanely euthanized Thursday at Oak Island Animal Hospital.
The 8-year-old Belgian Malinois assisted in having thousands of dollars’ worth of drugs removed in the county and “lived every minute of his life to the fullest he possibly could,” Brazil wrote.
Ziras came out of remission on New Year’s Eve and rebounded for a few weeks with a new round of medication. Then, on Feb. 21, he took a turn for the worse and stopped eating.
Brazil wrote her family had desperately wanted to throw a party of some sort for Ziras but had been unable to because Brazil recently had undergone surgery that put her on crutches.
Brazil was hoping Ziras would rebound again and hang on until she could fully recover.
“He fought to the very end,” she wrote. “I don’t know what I’m going to do without him. My heart is breaking.”
A story published in the Beacon last August related how Ziras was adopted by the Brazils more than a year ago after Brunswick County K-9 Sgt. Tommy Tolley sought a new home for the retiring police dog.
Tolley instructed and provided Brazil with Dutch commands typically used in police work with the breed trained in Holland.
Last summer, veterinary specialists at North Carolina State University diagnosed Ziras with life-threatening lymphoma after he had stopped eating and lost 20 pounds in about three-and-a-half weeks.
Brazil had them begin immediate, expensive medical treatment, including chemotherapy. In just a few days, Ziras responded well and continued treatment under Oak Island veterinarian Dr. Flint King.
The K-9 started gaining weight and playing with his favorite tennis balls. Fundraisers also were held to help with Ziras’ medical treatment, including 16 weeks of chemotherapy.
“Without the outpouring of support we received, we’d have never been able to give Ziras the extra time he had,” Brazil wrote. “I am so proud to live in a community like ours. If love alone could've saved Ziras, he’d have lived forever.”
In an interview in August, Brazil pointed out Ziras had given the best years of his life serving the community, serving four years and retiring when he was 6 years old.
During his working years in Brunswick County, he garnered numerous awards, including 15-20 trophies, and ranked in the top 20 among drug dogs in the nation, Tolley confirmed.
Brazil expressed appreciation for Tolley and the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office for giving them the opportunity to love Ziras, as well as for the many people who made donations to help pay for Ziras’ chemotherapy.
“While we had hoped for a different outcome, we will be forever grateful for the extra time we were given with this amazing, gifted, beautiful and loving dog,” she wrote. “We will never forget you, Ziras. Rest in peace, our friend.”